Germany orders Facebook to delete WhatsApp user data

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In an unprecedented win of privacy in the online world over the blatant sharing of user data by services, Facebook has been ordered to delete all the WhatsApp user data that it has collected and to immediately cease collecting such data by the German privacy regulator.

The order was issued by Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information while stating that Facebook is infringing data protection law in the country and prior to changing its policies through which it started collecting such information, it didn’t seek any approval from WhatsApp users in Germany. The Comissioner also added that when the acquisition happened two years back, it was assured by both Facebook and WhatsApp that user data will not be shared between the two and this is a violation of that assurance.

According to the commissioner Facebook’s latest policy changes about collecting WhatsApp user data is not only misleading, but also a direct violation of Germany’s national data protection law. Facebook on the other hand claims that it complies with EU data protection laws and that it is open to working with Hamburg DPA to address all the questions that have been put forward and to resolve concerns about this data sharing.

The Hamburg commissioner says that though the acquisition did happen, both Facebook and WhatsApp are still independent companies and that they should process their users’ data based on each company’s terms and conditions and data privacy policies.

The Hamburg commissioner’s move comes after EU and US regulators said they would scrutinise changes to privacy settings that WhatsApp made in August.

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